Saturday, April 12, 2014

32. Easy A (2010)

Code-name: Skype narr. (short for narrative or narration, I forget which)

Director: Will Gluck
Type: High School dramedy, 80's homage

Olive Penderghast- Emma Stone
Rhiannon- Aly Michalka
Marianne -Amanda Bynes
"Woodchuck"/"Lobster" Todd- Penn Badgley
Micah-Cam Gigandet
English Teacher Mr. Griffith-Thomas Haden Church
Guidance Consular Mrs. Griffith-Lisa Kudrow
Brandon- Dan Byrd
Mr. Penderghast- Stanley Tucci
Mrs. Penderghast- Patricia Clarkson
Principal Gibbons- Malcolm McDowell

honorable mention- Juliette Goglia as 8th grade Olive-

her character on "The Michael J. Fox" show was the one I was always most excited to see because I saw a lot of myself in her... still bummed the show got cancelled, but clearly Will Gluck liked her enough in this small role that he gave her this other part.

Notable Nomination:
Golden Globe- Best Actress (comedy/musical)- Emma Stone


I saw the trailer for "Easy A" during one of the many movies I saw in 2010. Something about the premise sounded so intriguing that I couldn't resist.
I remember my mom and I went to a later show around 3 or 4pm. We were the only ones in the theater. We had to remind the concession people know there were actual people in the theater because the film didn't turn on for a while :-P

To me, it was up there with "She's out of your league," both 2010 movies that had really original scripts that I found myself quoting or thinking about quoting for weeks, if not months afterwards. And considering how it blossomed into a homage to John Hughes movies, I had to rewatch "Sixteen Candles," "Pretty in Pink" and I also saw "Say Anything" and "Can't Buy Me Love" for the first time (not John Hughes films, I know, but there were references to them).

Although I had in fact seen her once before in "The House Bunny" (Anna Faris was the only actress that made any sort of impression on me that first time around... after falling in love with the story, the actresses followed, including Kat Dennings), this was the movie that officially made me a fan of Emma Stone.
She owned this character, Olive Penderghast, your typical anonymous high school girl who gained a helluva reputation with a single big fat lie, in such a way... I felt like I could relate to her. Such a quirky personality, much like the version of myself I only saw in my inner circles of family and friends, with a heart full of the best intentions.

As far as girl crushes go, I would love to have Emma Stone's signature look from this movie. That shade of red hair and those stunning green eyes.
And of course, I'd kill to be as comfortable in my own skin as Olive is. No matter what comic mischief she unwittingly gets herself into.

Spoilers ahead!

For those who don't know, the story begins with Olive telling her bestie that she slept with a community college freshman. This lie all started because she needed an excuse not to go camping with Rhi's freaky vegan hippie family.
But that entire weekend, she spent falling in love with "Pocketful of Sunshine" by Natasha Bedingfield. Hilarious from start to finish, this montage that started with her gabbing "worst song ever" to her musical birthday card, led to her singing in the shower (Ferris Bueller style, I might add, so I guess it's like this movie's "Danke Schoen"), and we find out it becomes her ringtone.
(On some VH1 countdown, Natasha Bedingfield even said how much she loved the homage they paid to her song in this movie... now that's awesome).

Of course, with the "strong personality" she has, Rhi winds up forcing Olive to admit to having sex with George... as if she wouldn't buy into the opposite, aka "the truth."
And for whatever reason, the rumor mill goes crazy over this and everyone starts looking at Olive in a different way. This is located in Ojai, California. When you think about it, the story is that she had a one-night stand with a college guy. Why is that a big deal? It's not as if this is a Catholic school and all the teenagers are frigid.

Although... case in point... Olive's biggest foes are the "Cross your Heart" club, led by the biggest Jesus freak of all, Marianne. She overhears Olive's exchange with Rhi in the ladies room and makes it her mission to "save Olive" from her pre-martial sexual desires.

Interestingly, Amanda Bynes (Marianne) and Aly Michalka (Rhi) were known for playing really good people in their respective kid-friendly TV series, but here, they both play the opposite. Who are really good at being bitchy. (Seriously, who constantly calls their bestie "bitch" as if it's a pet name? That's kinda messed up).

Adding to the irony of it all, the book they're studying in English class is "The Scarlet Letter."
Olive even includes this in her narration, how funny it is that the books you read in school have some odd connection to whatever you're going through.
Her English teacher, Mr. Griffith, is a great character for sure. He's got this dry sense of humor with hints of sarcasm strung throughout. And while she's going through the turmoil of her new "based on lies" life, he keeps an eye out for her.

A lot of the adults in Olive's life are written so well, like they're on the same level as the teenagers. The way they interact with each other. Another good example is her parents, the dynamic (or not so much, lol) duo of Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson. No matter what's going on, they have Olive's back and don't outwardly overreact to anything she means off the cuff. The most laid-back parents in the history of high school movies 8-)
I guess you could say they embody the spirit of Ojai, which is said to be a very "hippie friendly" city... if you believe Wikipedia, which I often do ;)

Olive narrates over the course of 5 stages. We already had "Part One: The Shudder-Inducing and Cliched, However Totally False Account Of How I Lost My Virginity To A Guy At A Community College." and the rumor mill with "Part Two: The Accelerated Velocity of Terminological Inexactitude."

Then we come around to "Part 3: A Lady's Choice and a Gentleman's Agreement."

At her detention (for calling Marianne's friend, Nina, a bad word from the British slang) with Brandon, she tells him the truth about the rumors and he says he was sent there because he called the principal a fascist... despite the fact he was the one bullied to a bloody nose.
The next day, he asks her to help him convince the school he's straight to make the bullying stop.
And boy do they make a scene about it. At Melody Bostick's party, they have the best fake sex scene ever. Involving brute force and a lot of "Oh yeah's!" from Olive.

She has a fight for Rhi, who is pissed about who she had to hear about this from, and decides to go through another change. Or at least her wardrobe does.

She buys a bunch of lingerie tops and sews a red letter "A" onto them. You'd think that would break a bunch of rules for the dress code. I mean, this is coming from the same place where the Principal threatened to throw her out if she makes one more transgression.
Hard-core stuff, but just love the spirit she embodies throughout this.

After the episode with Brandon, a bunch of guys ask for her help with favors of their own and they all pay her in the forms of gift cards. From Bath & Body to Auto Zone to movie tickets only good at the foreign film theater.
Definitely not your typical high school movie, so I enjoyed every minute of it, unsure of things would follow.

As is often the case, something dramatic does happen that "changes the course of history" as it were. Which brings us to part 4:
"How I, Olive Penderghast went from assumed trollop to and actual home-wrecker."

Another lie had to be told, but this was a big one. Because it was about more than just her and her rumored promiscuity. She did it to cover up an even bigger scandal.
Marianne's guitar strumming boyfriend and fellow Catholic, Micah, finds out that he has chlamydia and blurts out that he got it from Olive. Of course, this is very much a big deal, considering how his family and community are about pre-martial sex, but the truth is even huger...

and as a fan of "Mean Girls," of course I was laughing that they picked this of all the STD's.
"At your age, you're going to have a lot of urges. You're going to want to take off your clothes, and touch each other. But if you do touch each other, you will get chlamydia... and die."

Micah got it from the school's guidance counselor who happens to be married to Olive's English teacher. And to save her favorite teacher's marriage, Olive takes the blame. This, of course, incurs the wrath of the "Cross Your Hearts" club (now including Rhi and a rather random dude dressed in a Quiznoz costume).
While trying to find more out about the religion, we hear One Republic's "Good Life" play in the background (this was a month or two before it became a radio hit... whereas with their better 2010 song "Secrets", played in "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" took an extra 3-4 months to do the same). This trek does not go well, when you take into account how long the Bible is, Olive confesses to an empty confessional and almost seeks advice from Marianne's Pastor dad... the most straight-laced character SNL alum and "Portlandia" star Fred Armisen will likely play in his life.

Something else Olive also ponders in this part of her narration: why has no guy actually asked her out on a date? Does that chivalry only exist in 80's movies?

This touched such a tender spot in my heart, I need to share this passage:
"I want John Cusack holding a boombox outside my window. I wanna ride off on a lawnmower with Patrick Dempsey. I want Jake from Sixteen Candles waiting outside the church for me. I want Judd Nelson thrusting his fist into the air because he knows he got me. Just once I want my life to be like an 80's movie, preferably one with a really awesome musical number for no apparent reason. But no, no, John Hughes did not direct my life."

I don't know when Bert V. Royal wrote this movie. Wikipedia says he wrote all but the last 10 pages in 5 days. Also says "Ferris Bueller" was Will Gluck's favorite movie, which explains all the references.
Since John Hughes passed away the previous year (August 6th of an unexpected heart attack), it felt like this movie was paying tribute to him after his passing. Whether that was the intention or not, I can't say, but as a HUGE John Hughes fan, this was just a thought I really appreciated.

Olive gets asked out by a guy, whom she believes is interested in her, only to find out he was under the impression she really was having sex for money (or in this case a $200 Home Depot gift card). Luckily, things don't get super heated and she gets him to back off, but she realizes she needs to rethink things.

It also helps that this guy, Todd, whom we see several times throughout the movie, was willing to give her a ride home and listen to her.
Early on, Olive divuldged the first time she lied to cover up for someone. It was another party at Melody Bostick's and she was in 7 minutes of Heaven with Todd. Neither felt comfortable with kissing, so she agreed to say they did. Amazingly, this was something Todd never forgot either and just how easy-going he is about everything. He was the only person that never judged Olive or bought into the rumors, almost like he's too good to be true, but in this rare exception, he really is good.

When none of the people Olive helped agreed to change their stories for her, Todd helps her stage a kick-ass random musical number at their pep rally in Part 5: Not with a Fizzle but with a Bang!
By the way, I never knew how racy that song "Knock on Wood" was before this.
The purpose of it: to tell everyone about her tell-all webcast, which we've been watching since the beginning.
(According to trivia, Emma Stone did that in 14 hours on the same day and it was how she auditioned for the part).

I won't give too much away about the ending, but let's just say it's one final big fat love letter to John Hughes and 80's movies. When the music started playing in the theater, I flipped out. Just WOW 8-) grinning from ear to ear.
Yeah, that's my idea of epic.

Coming Next Week

A rom-com that almost plays out like a fairytale. Girl from the dodgy end of LA winds up with a super rich businessman. It was the reason a lot of girls fell in love with its male lead. Full of clichés but who doesn't love a cliché?
Probably the most shocking part was that it's not an 80's movie because it has all the makings of it. But it was released in 1990.

Looking at it now, I'm surprised to see all the flack it's getting on IMDB, but for people like my mom and me, it's the definitive chick flick. It just took me a few extra years to fall in love with in the way I have.

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